If you read our last blog and have the basics covered, you’re off to a good start. However, NOTHING in cyber stays the same… and thus you need to continue to learn and evolve. Here are the next level of things to learn–for free–including offensive security, cloud security and other tools that are typically core to a security stack.
Penetration testing is a very difficult specialty to break into. However, there are many, many resources for learning offensive security. Even if you do not plan on entering penetration testing as a specialty, you can learn a lot by practicing ethical hacking using some of the resources below.
An operating system (like Mac OS or Windows) that is used for penetration testing. Simply put, you MUST know Kali Linux to get into offensive security. Install it as a VM on your home computer and start practicing. There is also Parrot Security, which is an alternate OS to Kali Linux. However, if you are unfamiliar with Kali, you should start there instead of Parrot.
Damn Vulnerable Web Application (DVWA)
This is an excellent tool that allows you to practice with many of the basic skills covered in the early part of this document. Download and install the DVWA onto a VM on your network, then start attacking it! It’s fun and the installation portion alone will get you working with Github, the Linux terminal, databases, and web servers.
This is a great site for learning many different areas of cybersecurity. Originally created for teaching penetration testing, it now has plenty of training paths to learn networking, forensics, security operations, and more. There is a free account that provides some beginner rooms, but there is also a Pro account for a low monthly fee.
A more advanced training platform that has free boxes available for you to hack into – they rotate frequently. If you are serious about going into penetration testing, this is the site for you. You need to hack your way in just to get an account. Like TryHackMe, HackTheBox offers both a free account and a professional account.
Internetwork Expert (INE)
A complete training site that offers a free account for those looking to complete the fundamentals of security.
Popular Offensive Tools to Know
- Burp Suite
- John the Ripper
At the very least, you should understand what the cloud is, and how it has different security implications than the traditional on-premises architecture. Be sure to know the differences between Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). There are three major players in the cloud industry:
- Amazon Web Services (AWS): AWS has many different ways to learn, including free live training sessions via Twitch, and several free digital courses to get you started. You can also sign up for a free AWS account and work through Well-Architected Labs.
- Microsoft Azure: Microsoft offers free fundamental training for Azure. You can take a certification exam for a relatively low price (compared to other certifications), but this isn’t necessary.
- Google Cloud Platform (GCP): Google offers free cloud training to learn their cloud platform. Google also offers free, interactive training events through their Cloud OnBoard initiative.
Additional Security Tools
You don’t need to learn all of these, but it helps to know one or two in depth. This helps you move into a specialty.
- Security Information and Event Management (SIEM): If you are unsure, start with a SIEM, which is one of the most popular tools in a Security Operations Center (SOC). These tools are used to aggregate and analyze data from many different sources – and used for threat detection, analytics and response.
- Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR): Another common SOC tool is a Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) platform, which is used to automate security actions such as a playbook. These often require an understanding of JSON, Python, and APIs.
- Intrusion Detection/Protection Systems: There are open-source tools that provide IDS capabilities and more – and provide you with great opportunities to practice threat detection on a home network.
- Vulnerability Scanning: Vulnerability scanning can be a precursor to penetration testing, or can serve as its own function for information security teams.
Cybersecurity is an industry that places a heavy emphasis on certifications. In fact, some organizations find more value in certifications than they do a college degree. Additionally, if you wish to work in the government or defense sector, you may be required to hold some of these certifications prior to getting privileges on a computer. Technical certifications can be broken down into two types:
- Vendor-Agnostic: These certifications are administered and recorded by a central party, such as CompTIA, EC-Council, Cloud Security Alliance, and (ISC)2 . Vendor-agnostic certifications are a good way to demonstrate that you have the necessary foundational knowledge to learn a specific job role.
- Vendor-Specific: Many cybersecurity vendors offer their own certifications to prove that you understand a specific product the vendor offers. These will typically help you go down a specialty path and take an advanced step in your career.
In my final blog on getting started in cybersecurity, we’ll take a look at different roles to consider in your journey.